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Have you been making tea all wrong? The classic Kenyan masala Chai

Let's settle the debate

Recipe with a Pulselive twist: 2 ways to brew Kenyan Masala flavoured Chai Tea

Tea is a very common feature in all Kenyan breakfast tables at the beginning of the day and will often feature again in the afternoon as the day draws to an end.

Arguably, every Kenyan has a solid idea on the ingredients and the process of brewing some tea with milk and even simpler, dropping a tea bag in a cup of hot water.

Tea is such an intricate part of the Kenyan society that just by how you brew your tea could "betray your tribe".


Some Kenyans are known for skimping out on the milk to create the detestable "nylon" chai, others are very liberal with the tea leaves such that one is left to wonder if there's such a thing as "death by tea". Not forgetting the famous "dubia" (sugarless tea).

Pulselive is this week tackling the controversial process of making tea and we'll give you the scientifically correct way of making a cup of tea with a teabag.

The Pulselive 5:1:1 rule to making perfect Kenyan masala chai


First off, the process of making tea determines how much of the caffeine and nutrients end up readily available to your body. Boil the tea leaves in water before adding milk to ensure you get a rich cup of tea.

Alternatively, when using a teabag, let the teabag sit in the cup of hot water for at least 5 minutes so that the tea flavours develop completely. With some tea brands you may need to use more than one teabag.

The flavours that tend to work best in tea with milk are tea masala, cardamoms, cinnamon and nutmeg.


Second, for a perfect Kenyan cup of tea apply a 1:1 ratio for milk and water. Thank us later.


For 4 cups of Kenyan Chai

2 cups of water (preferably distilled)


2 cups of whole milk

1 tablespoon tea masala

1 tablespoon loose-leaf black tea



Method 1: using tea leaves

  1. Pour water into a deep saucepan (sufuria). Add the tea leaves then place on high heat.
  2. When the water and tea leaves have come to a boil, add tea masala.
  3. After the mixture has boiled for about 3 minutes add the milk and wait for the tea to boil and rise. (Tea lovers can tell when your tea was not left to boil)
  4. Sieve and serve with sugar in a tea cup or mug with an accompaniment.

Method 2: using a flavoured teabag

  1. Place the teabag in your tea mug and coil the string around the handle to avoid having it fall into the mug when you pour the hot water. This also helps your teabag to remain upright in the cup.
  2. Carefully pour in the piping hot water and let the teabag sit in the hot water for 5 minutes. Scientific research found that this increases the amount of caffeine in the brew, doubles the antioxidant properties and creates stronger flavours.
  3. Add warm milk and sugar to your tea, serve.

The Pulselive verdict: Tea brewed in a sufuria has a much richer taste, colour and flavour than tea made with a teabag.


A perfect snack to have with your Kenyan masala chai: The 8-minute crumbly Sugar Cookies.


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